The safest way to shop for Thanksgiving groceries, according to an infectious disease doctor

Make your Thanksgiving shopping as simple as possible this year. (Photo: Canva)
Make your Thanksgiving shopping as simple as possible this year. (Photo: Canva)

It’s no secret that Thanksgiving celebrations will look a little different this year thanks to the global pandemic. And, while you might have pared down your guest list in the name of safety, you may also want to rethink your holiday grocery shopping strategy.

Steering clear of in-store shopping at the moment is a smart idea, Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio, and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life. Why? There tends to be a huge rush on holiday essentials, making stores much more crowded than usual. That means more people in stores at once, longer lines, and an increased risk of getting infected with COVID-19.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone limit in-person trips to the grocery store. “In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread,” the agency says online. And longer lines and crowded stores make it difficult to avoid this right now.

If you must shop in person, go early or late to beat the crowds. (Photo: Getty)
If you must shop in person, go early or late to beat the crowds. (Photo: Getty)

That’s why Dr. Watkins says it’s really best to take advantage of a grocery delivery service, if you can.

There are lots of options. You can even get fresh groceries from Walmart these days—the retail giant recently launched a new delivery service called Walmart+. It offers free delivery ($35 minimum), at the same low prices you love. The signup is easy—a risk-free trial gives you 15 days, and a quick three-question survey will tack on two more weeks. After your 30 days are up, you’ll be charged $12.98 per month or $98 per year depending on what you select.

Rather pick out your goods in person? Dr. Watkins offers up a few tips to make grocery shopping as safe as possible:

Wear a mask. The CDC recommends wearing a mask anytime you’re around people who aren’t in your household, but state-by-state regulations vary. If your local area or grocery store doesn’t require masks, Watkins says you should wear one anyway. “Always wear a mask when you leave home,” he says.

Shop during off-peak hours. Shopping early in the morning or late at night usually means there will be less crowds, Dr. Watkins says.

Get in and out ASAP. The longer you stay in the store, the greater your risk of exposure. “Shop as quickly as possible, use a list, and don’t linger,” Watkins says.

Holiday grocery shopping can be a big hassle, though. So if you can take the process out of the equation and reduce your COVID-19 exposure risk at the same time, we say go for it.

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